I feel I've learned a lifetime of lessons in the last six days. So many lessons, I won't be able to cover them all in this post. Or even two or twenty posts. But, I really want to try to cover one in particular, my sweet girl.
Let's go back in history a bit. Once upon a time, I went to Northwest Academy (now Houston Christian High School). I graduated. I went to college. I got married. I had you. You went to Northwest Academy too.
This is such a nice story, isn't it?
Of course, there is a lot more to this story, some wonderful and some terrible, but I will leave all of that for another day.
When you started Kindergarten at Northwest Academy, you had a classmate, Austin Taylor. And his mother was my classmate when I was at Northwest Academy in high school, Janet Taylor.
This is the nice part of the story, you see?
When you were in 4th grade, we moved all over the U.S. Fast forward many years to last Friday. It was last Friday that we learned that Janet's husband, Austin's dad, our friend, Stacy Taylor died. He was 49.
When you're married, especially happily married, and someone who is also happily married dies, well, you can't help thinking of yourself and making parallels. I love Dad with my whole heart. He's my best friend and he's a wonderful husband. I can't imagine a day, let alone the rest of my life, without him. I know he feels the same way about me.
Let me share with you a post I ran across on Facebook from a man who knew Stacy Taylor well, a man I don't know at all. It's lengthy, and I have edited some of it out to share with you at another time. Even this edited version is long. Read all of it. You'll be the better for having done so.
He (Stacy) may mention that he started his first business mowing lawns at 15...just like many young boys. He would leave out that he started hiring people to work for him at 15 because of the growth and by his senior year at Northbrook High School he was having to miss classes (with the principal's permission). He had a work ethic that would not quit and lasted throughout his entire life.
You see, my friend and mentor died on Friday at 49 years old. And to the audience of over 1000 that was present at his funeral today, not one thing about his work was stated. He would have been pleased with that.
What was told by his 2 daughters, son and wife were the stories of how he loved them well. There were stories told of how he was intentional in his love and leadership of his home. He approached the job of ministering and leading his children with the same diligence and forethought that he applied to his work life. Something few of us can say.
Several years ago he called me into his office and offered me the opportunity to help lead one of his businesses. These are some (of hundreds) of lessons on leadership I learned from my time being mentored and working with Stacy Taylor.
LEAD PEOPLE WELL
Stacy hosted a Christmas party for our company as many owners do. He invited the family members of our employees as most owners do. He catered the dinner like most owners do. However, the catering was done completely by Stacy, his wife Janet Taylor and his 3 children. They cooked everything...Stacy marinated the tenderloins for hours himself. Then, each family member clad in aprons, served everything. Then they cleaned everything and would not allow others to help. As I stood off to the side and watched him not only model servant leadership to his employees; it was incredible to watch him mentor his family toward that end. When you lead people well it sets a rhythm in your organization of servant leadership and a heartbeat in your family of service.
LEAD YOUR WIFE WELL
Early in Stacy's career he was approached by a "successful" man needing a bond for a large venture. At that time, this contract would have been one of the largest in Stacy's company's history. His audit team reviewed the man's corporate financials and found several charges at strip clubs. Stacy asked, "Sir, I noticed you have several charges to a topless establishment, can you explain those." The man replied, "of course, those are for entertaining clients...you know keeping them happy." Stacy replied, "Sir, I notice you have a ring on your finger...how can I expect you as my customer to be faithful in your promise to pay me when you are not choosing to be faithful to your wife…the most sacred covenant you have made on earth.” Stacy…loved…his wife. He expected those who worked closely around him to love their wives. He pursued her for 28 years. If he asked me to bring milk duds to a meeting…I knew his wife Janet would be joining us. They were her favorite candy. To lead your wife well…I learned to never stop pursuing her. The last day of your marriage should be more fulfilling than the first.
Lauren, I want you to understand something. I think about whom you will marry right now more than ever before, because you are about to graduate from college and this is the time in life that many young women consider marriage.
Whom you marry is the single most important decision you will make in your life. It will affect every aspect of your life and it will determine how happy you are. It will dictate the course of your life.
If you would like more stories from Janet and Stacy's marriage, I will get them for you. But, you don't need even one more story.
When considering marriage, all you need to do is ask yourself if your man is a Milk Duds man.
Is my man a Milk Duds man?
Dad is a Milk Duds man. Grampa is a Milk Duds man. You've seen Milk Duds men in action. When you marry, if you marry, marry one of them.
P.S. The next time you come home from school, we're going to talk more about Stacy Taylor, his life, his legacy. And we're going to talk more about his children and his wife and the legacy they are building. Stacy inspired people. The entire Taylor family has been inspiring to Dad and to me.
P.P.S. I love you.
P.P.S.S. There were so many requests to the church to see the video of Stacy's memorial service, it was made available for viewing online. The link to it is https://vimeo.com/72937558. If it asks for a password it is: skyrocket.